Detroit’s Renzo Cardoni draws star-studded following

 Rami Mona moves down a long white table covered in his creations. He shows off a pair of wine and gold Cleveland Cavalier shorts and a denim jersey with “Lakers” and “Bryant” airbrushed in yellow. He pauses at a tie-dyed hoodie for NFL wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

“I’m putting the Dolphins logo right here,” says Mona, his tattooed fingers passing over the orange and blue dye, “and his last name on the back and No. 14. One of the games coming up, if you watch, you’ll see him warm up in this for sure.”

The tie-dye is a bit out of the ordinary for the young luxury sportswear designer, who typically deconstructs licensed athletic apparel and adds his own flair using leather, denim, camouflage and, his favorite material, snakeskin.

“That’s what I love about these athletes; they let me do what I want to do,” he says. “I send them different mockups, and they give me the OK.”

The Sterling Heights resident, who just turned 26, has designed custom sportswear for such superstars as Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Detroit rappers Big Sean and Dej Loaf have repped his Cardoni collection, as has Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Wale and Khloe Kardashian. At last season’s Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons defensive line sported his hoodies.

He’s perhaps the most sought-after, high-end sportswear designer in Detroit. Yet Mona started from nothing in his mother’s basement. Skipping college, he sold his shoe collection for money to start Renzo Cardoni at age 21. (Renzo is a nickname; Cardoni nods to Detroit’s Cardoni Street, where a late friend lived.)

“I didn’t have connections. I didn’t have resources from college,” says Mona, wearing gold-rimmed glasses and a black Detroit “D” cap. “I took something from nothing, and I built it.”

Mona moved production from Shelby Township to the second floor of an Eastern Market mixed-use space a few months ago. He now has 10 seamstresses, two cutters and several interns working on his “team.” A sports fanatic, Mona frequently drops sports analogies to describe his company that produces 50 pieces a week.

“This is a team. If one person is injured, we keep going. We can’t just slack,” says Mona, intimating he’s the key player. “Like, I’m LeBron. If LeBron doesn’t play, we’re not going to win the championship.”

Merging his interests

While attending Fitzgerald High School in Warren, Mona hung out with rising Detroit rappers. He wanted to be part of the industry, but he didn’t rap. His interests were sports and fashion. So he merged the two and marketed his product to musicians.

As a test, Mona took the first jersey his mom bought him in sixth grade and embellished it with snakeskin fabric. At the time, sportswear designer Don C came out with hats featuring snakeskin and sports logos.

“I was like, ‘This is it. When he’s doing that with hats, I know can do this with jerseys,’ ” Mona says.

His first item was a Michael Jordan jersey. Mona turned the No. 23 into python snakeskin and the mesh body into leather.

This was around 2012. As Mona puts it, “leather was hot.” He popped on the fashion radar soon after. The first big-name artist to support him was rapper Fabolous.

“He took me in like a little brother. He respected what I was doing and where I was coming from,” Mona says. “Being 21, not a lot of people have the vision of just trying to start their own brand.”

Flash-forward to today, and Mona names Beckham Jr. as his No. 1 fan. Before games, fans can often spot the Giant warming up in a Cardoni hoodie.

“He was my client, but we grew to be like brothers,” Mona says.

Yet his “biggest moment,” he says, was when Stephen Curry’s wife, Ayesha, wore a Cardoni snakeskin-lettered Warriors jersey.

Grinning, Mona launches into the story: Curry’s brother, Seth Curry, contacted him to buy a Golden State Warriors jersey. Thrilled, Mona sent it as a gift. Seth wore the jersey to a few games before giving it to Ayesha, who wore it like a dress the night her husband won the NBA Championship.

“You know how you get married and you frame a picture with you and your husband that will stay with you forever?” Mona says. “This picture with her, her husband, their two kids and the trophy — with my jersey on — that will go down in history.”

That, and the time TV personality Khloe Kardashian wore his yellow Tristan Thompson jersey to a Cavs game. Kardashian, who’s dating Thompson, bought the No. 13 jersey from a Cleveland store owned by Mona’s friend.

“Later that night, we were watching the game. I guess her boyfriend scores a point, and she gets up, and you see the jersey. At that moment, it was just crazy, because it was like two iconic females in, like, less than a week wearing my jerseys.” Mona says. “… Right there, I knew that’s another lane I’m going to work into — making female sportswear and kids sportswear. Not just men’s.”

Customized pieces can reach nearly $1,400 for a jersey and $400-plus for shorts. More affordable merch, including $175 Cardoni hoodies and $95 tees, also is sold online.

Growing up with a mother working two jobs, he understands the prices aren’t cheap.

“I’m not trying to charge people this much because I want to,” he says. “It’s because I have to. We put all this time and effort into a piece; you have to make sure it’s worth what it is.”

Thursday morning, Bree Russell bent over a machine, sewing a red Toronto Raptors jacket.

“We spend more time taking things apart than putting them together,” says Russell, explaining that she removes the waistband, trim and logos from licensed apparel. “Then we add in our own touches: zippers, the snakeskin.”

The 33-year-old Westland resident started as a seamstress two years ago, after she found the job on Craigslist.

“It’s been a really interesting experience to watch this company take off,” says Russell, acknowledging the demand from athletes and celebrities. “It’s always fun when you open Instagram and you’re like, ‘I made that! And that person is wearing that!’ ”

The next collection

Mona always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but his mother served as his motivation to work hard.

“One of my goals was to make her quit her job, like, ‘You don’t have to work no more. I got you, mom.’ And that’s what I did,” he says.

Now Elham Mona only works part-time as an assistant store manager to avoid boredom.

But there were days she left the house at 7 a.m. and didn’t return from work until 11:30 p.m.

“They didn’t even see me,” she says of her three boys, now 23, 24 and 26.

Thanks to her eldest son, she also moved into a new house.

“He supports me now,” says Elham Mona, 57. “I’m so proud of him.”

When he’s not traveling to such places as Los Angeles and Oregon — where he partnered with Nike to give 200 high school football players hoodies this summer — Mona spends most days in the lab trying to create “the next hottest thing.”

“I’m already working on stuff for 2020,” he says.

Coming up, he’s releasing an orange and black Jordan jersey for Halloween. He’s also designing trunks and a robe that boxer Manny Pacquiao plans to wear this fall.

Detroit rapper Gary Thomas, known as GT, recently wore a Chicago Bulls camouflage hoodie while performing at Summer Jamz 20 at Joe Louis Arena.

Thomas, 25, says he’s supported the brand from the beginning and loves its vintage flair.

“I get a lot of compliments from older people,” he says.

Of the hundreds of pieces Mona designed, he can’t pick a favorite.

“Every time I make a new jersey, I get inspired,” he says. “I still get that feeling I get when I made my first one. As far as I came, I still feel like this is just the beginning for me.”

Mona could move to New York or Los Angeles, where there’s materials he can’t buy in the Motor City, but he’s a Detroit hustler. And he wants to stay to help create a “fashion district,” which doesn’t exist — yet.

“It would be dope to see that one day Detroit has a Detroit Fashion Week,” he says. “Hopefully … I can be an influencer and motivate people to build Detroit as one, maybe we can have that one day.”

Adidas extends Number 1 position in the sportswear market in India

Adidas India continued its strong performance in the Indian sportswear market by growing revenue by 22 percent year on year for the financial year ending March 31, 2017.

Adidas, Adidas India, Indian Market, Sportswear Market, Sports Brand India, Reebok, Adidas Market

Adidas India continued its strong performance in the Indian sportswear market by growing revenue by 22 percent year on year for the financial year ending March 31, 2017. This growth is the fastest of all the major sports brands in India. adidas India extended its revenue market leadership position and now it is almost 20 percent larger than the next brand in this space. This was as stated in the adidas India audited financial numbers for Financial Year 2016-2017.

The company also recorded the highest ever profit from a single financial year by clocking almost INR 95 crore (PAT) in financial year ended March 31, 2017. More than doubling its profits from the previous year. This is significantly higher than the other major sportswear brands in India who, with the exception of Reebok, delivered losses in their last submissions. The company has grown on the back of consistent good performance across its popular categories such as running, training and football. It has also grown strongly in its Originals business as it has become the most popular athleisure brand for India’s millennials.

While Adidas continues to perform remarkably in India, the Reebok brand, which is part of adidas Company has turned the corner. It registered profits for its last single financial year and has also grown its revenues by 16 percent year on year. Both Adidas and Reebok brands continue to invest in the Indian sportswear market with a number of strategic and consumer-centric initiatives. Both brands operate across multi-channel formats and additionally adidas opened its first own retail store in Delhi last week. It plans to open a few more in the coming months in its continuous quest to improve consumer experience in India.

Bjorn Borg sportswear aims to become major brand

Bjorn Borg AB, the underwear and sportswear label named after one of Sweden’s best-known tennis players, plans to expand in the UK, Germany and the US as it sets its sights on becoming a global brand.

Bjorn Borg launching his clothing range in Selfridges store, Birmingham.

In recent years, Bjorn Borg has mostly focused on the Nordic and Benelux countries. But to continue growing after 2019 when its current five-year plan ends the company will start doing more in the UK and Germany, after which it expects to target the US, chief executive officer Henrik Bunge said.

“To make Bjorn Borg a global, iconic brand you can find everywhere, the UK and Germany is the next step,” the CEO said at the company’s headquarters in central Stockholm.

“Toward the end of the current business plan, in 2018 and 2019, it’s time to look at most probably the US,” he said.

Since Mr Bunge took over in 2014, a brand associated with brightly coloured underwear has become a sportswear label that offers sweaters, pants, tights, shorts and skirts. That’s coincided with a so-called athleisure fad, whereby people also wear sports clothes outside the gym.

The fame of Bjorn Borg — a five-time Wimbledon tennis champion — should be global enough to help the company compete with sportswear giants such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Lululemon Athletica, Mr Bunge said.

“If you want to become the biggest in the world, you need to be big in the US so of course we need to expand there,” he said.

How to Find the Right Footwear for Your Workout

It’s easy to get caught up in marketing gimmicks and fads when it comes to shopping for sneakers, so we turned to four leading experts to find out how to best go about shopping for a pair — because no one wants to hit the beach with crutches.

Reebok’s head of advanced innovation, Bill McInnis

  • Know the difference between a shoe that’s designed for gym classes versus a running shoe. A shoe designed for the gym focuses more on lateral movement and traction vs. a running shoe that tends to have a little higher midsole height. The additional height is to accommodate the additional cushioning typically required in a traditional (non–barefoot) style of running shoe.
  • When it comes to wearing a shoe that is activity-specific, it’s probably less a case of whether it’s a “necessary” thing and more a question of how do you optimize an activity by using a shoe specifically designed for it. Outside the gym, for example, you could play football or basketball wearing running shoes, but you wouldn’t be as effective. The same holds true in the gym.
  • Running shoes are typically designed for distance or endurance running. If distance running (2-3 miles or more) is a focus of your training, I’d recommend sticking with running shoes. If, however, the bulk of your training time is spent in the gym, you should probably look for a shoe with a little more support, like a cross trainer.
  • If you spend most of your time on the machines at the gym (and I’m excluding treadmills here as running shoes are most appropriate), you want to focus on flexibility as you want your foot to stay active to avoid that numb or tingling sensation you can experience on machines. You also want to focus on a good fitting upper, particularly one that doesn’t bind too tight in the lace area as that can contribute to numbness as well. From our range, either of our RealFlex shoes would be good choices.
  • If you spend most of your time taking classes at the gym, then I think you’d want a versatile lower profile shoe with flexibility, traction, and lateral support. Again, I think from our range, the RealFlex Transition is a good example of a versatile shoe for a variety of classes.

Fitness expert and celebrity personal trainer, Kira Stokes


  • Always buy your shoes 1/2 to 1 full size bigger than your “dress shoes.” You need room for your toes to push forward during exercise. This will avoid the dreaded “black toe.”
  • Running shoes can be used for more than just running. I encourage clients/students to go for runners versus cross-trainers even for my bootcamp style class Stoked 360. Often times cross-trainers are too rigid and although they provide more lateral support, do not allow the foot and ankle to strengthen as they should for various activities. They become almost a “crutch.” This, of course, applies to those who are injury free, without special needs.
  • Know your gait or foot placement — i.e. do you pronate (foot rolls in), supinate (foot rolls out), or have a neutral gait? Go to a store that has experts who will watch you run or walk on a treadmill to determine your needs with regards to extra support within your shoes. For example, if you pronate, you will need a shoe with a footbridge in the interior portion to help prevent the foot from rolling in. This is often times visible with a different color than the rest of the shoe. If you go  to a store without such experts, check the soles of your current shoes to see where the tread is most worn. If the inside of the tread is worn, you most likely need a shoe to correct pronation. If the outside portion is worn, you most likely need a shoe to correct supination. If the tread seems evenly worn, go for a shoe marked neutral.
  • Obviously, fit and function comes first, but if you can find a shoe that accommodates your needs AND looks amazing, go for the cool factor! If you love the look of your sneakers, you will be much more motivated to put them on and kick your exercise routine into high gear. I find bright colored sneakers truly evoke more energy and put you in a better mood. Nothing better than burning calories with a smile on your face!

Director of coaching for AA Elite Coaching, Andrew Allden

  • Go to a running shoe or running specialty store, not a department or general sporting goods store as they will usually allow you to take a test run.
  • Size matters, fit is the number one issue. The biggest mistake most folks make is wrong size — generally too small (this is particularly true for women). You can’t go by what you normally wear even if you have worn running shoes previously or even that make or brand. Running shoes are more true to size than they used to be, but don’t get stuck on a number, go by the fit.
  • Don’t skimp on socks. Don’t get $100 shoes and $1 socks and then wonder why you get blisters. To that end – always wear socks when you run, this will increase the life of the shoe, particularly if you are a heavy sweater. [ed note: Opt for moisture wicking socks.]
  • If it works, don’t fix it. If you have a shoe model that has worked for you, don’t do the iPhone/iPad upsell to the latest model.
  • Go shopping at the end of the day when your feet are at their biggest.
  • Break shoes in gradually. Don’t wear new shoes in a race or on a long run until they have been used on several shorter runs.
  • Minimalist or barefoot type shoes are not for everyone. Just because you know one person who raves about them does not mean you should make that change.

New Balance Pro tips

  • Always wear the type of socks you intend to exercise in when trying on athletic footwear, thus ensuring a proper fit for your workout.
  • Have the salesperson measure your foot — length and width — for both feet.
  • In order to see if the shoe fits, do a “thumb test.” You need about a thumbnail’s width between your longest toe and the end of your shoe.  You should also be able to wiggle your toes freely inside the shoes.
  • Try on both shoes of the pair — don’t necessarily assume that both feet are the same size or that since one shoe fits, they both will. [ed note: If one foot is larger than the other, purchase your shoes according to the larger size and put in an insole.]
  • Take them for a test drive. Many stores let you take a test jog/walk around the block before buying. Walk, run, and jump in the shoes to make sure they are comfortable when doing multiple activities.

Now that you’re better informed as to what to look for, here’s a look at some of the latest high-performance sneaker styles worth trying on, some of which have been referenced above.


Ellen DeGeneres Adds Footwear to Her ED Lifestyle Brand

ED shoes

Ellen DeGeneres’ lifestyle brand is rapidly growing, this time adding a footwear option to its selection of wares. Degeneres’ ED has inked a deal with the Camuto Group, which will have the brand selling shoes and sneakers come springtime.

DeGeneres’ line already comes with easy wardrobe staples – T-shirts, button downs, jackets and the like, all very classically American with an ED twist. DeGeneres recently launched a pop-up home shop in Bergdorf Goodman, which will run until September 22. But if you can’t wait to get your hands (or feet) on ED’s footwear, a capsule collection is available on the Bergdorf Goodman website until September 30. Take your pick of a few shoe styles, including sneakers, Chelsea boots, oxfords and pumps, which aren’t what you would call cheap. Sneakers and oxfords boast the lowest price point at $200 a pop, while the boots go for $250 and pumps for $230.

“I am so excited for my brand to partner with the Camuto Group. They say you have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to really know how they feel. Well, now you can literally walk a mile in my shoes, or even further if you choose,” DeGeneres told WWD.

Katy Perry’s New Footwear Line Is as Fun and Quirky as You’d Expect

When we think Katy Perry, we think bold personality, cute little kitties, anthropomorphic cupcakes and prismatic wigs. Which is why we were unsurprised to see that the pop princess’ new shoe line, made in partnership with Hong-Kong-based Global Brands Group, looks like a pair of Rochas heels married some Jeremy Scott jellies and reproduced (like) bunnies. And we mean that in a good way.

This is only the first of many creative projects we can expect from the Covergirl and Coty collaborator and Global Brands Group, whose business relationship will extend over the next several years. “This is an actual business for me; it’s different from some of my other things that are more endorsements. This is a real creation, a 50-50 deal. I’m not doing it because of anything other than it’s my baby and I need someone to help me distribute it across the world. I trust Global and I need their expertise, so it’s going to be one of those things that in the long run will hopefully pay off. I just have to pay attention every step of the way and learn a lot and apply it,” she told WWD. In other words, an accessories and even apparel line may be in our future.


But we digress. The eye candy-filled first collection from Katy Perry Footwear features a slew of sandals, sneakers, stilettos and pumps in materials from lucite to vinyl and bold prints ranging from metallics to florals. To top it off, the shoes are affordably priced between $59 and $299 (“I didn’t grow up with any money and I was always getting by by the skin of my teeth, so affordable is just ingrained in me,” the singer explained).


As noted, much of the more than 60-piece Spring 2017 collection, which was in part inspired by Perry’s considerable travels, touts the singer’s quirky, costumey style. Picture Cuban cigar-shaped stilettos, Grecian sandals embellished with beady evil eyes, green mesh shooties decorated in dollar signs, bunny-eared flats complete with bushy tails…you get the idea.

“I have a two-car garage full of shoes and my dream is to bring personality shoes to the marketplace at an affordable price for women [ages] 16 to 40 or beyond,” says the newly minted shoe designer, who credits originals like Charlotte Olympia, Sophia Webster and Kurt Geiger for her inspiration (and many of the occupants of said garage).

Get a glimpse of the first-ever Katy Perry Footwear ad campaign below (it debuts in full in January) and set aside $300 now for your own pair of statement-making heels, coming this spring.


Rihanna Is the First Woman to Receive the Shoe of the Year Award

Long time back rihanna received this award.

Image result for Finally, a vote we can all agree upon. For the first time since its 2014 inception, a woman has won Footwear News’ award for Shoe of the Year. Naturally, that woman is streetwear sultan Rihanna, whose Fenty x Puma creepers are as hard to get one’s hands on as a pair of Yeezy Boost 350s, Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes and other such urban shoe legends. Drop after drop, Rih’s creepers repeatedly sell out in minutes (usually around 35, to be exact). The creepers’ streamlined, height-boosting, punk-inspired design has made them shoe closet staples among the fashion set. Ultimately, the buzz caught the attention of those over at Footwear News. “In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined an honor like ‘shoe of the year,’” Rihanna said in a press release. Here, we’d like to quote The Cut’s Veronique Hyland in saying, “Dream bigger, Rih!” “It means so much to me to make a mark like this in the shoe and sneaker industry and to have so many people share my love for the creeper,” Puma’s creative director continued. Apart from the girl power points, the best part of RiRi taking home this award is that she’ll undoubtedly show up to accept it in some incredible, show-stopping ensemble that, much like her creepers, we’ll be clamoring to buy. The FNAAs will take place on November 29 at New York City’s IAC building. Other honorees include Mark King, president of Adidas Group North America, who will take home the award for Person of the Year, as well as Paul Andrew, design director of women’s footwear at Salvatore Ferragamo and Footwear News‘ Designer of the Year. Iris Apfel, recipient of the organization’s Icon Award, will also be in attendance. Whether the room will be able to accommodate her and Rihanna’s combined sartorial forces remains to be seen. Read more at

Finally, a vote we can all agree upon. For the first time since its 2014 inception, a woman has won Footwear News’ award for Shoe of the Year. Naturally, that woman is streetwear sultan Rihanna, whose Fenty x Puma creepers are as hard to get one’s hands on as a pair of Yeezy Boost 350s, Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes and other such urban shoe legends. Drop after drop, Rih’s creepers repeatedly sell out in minutes (usually around 35, to be exact).

The creepers’ streamlined, height-boosting, punk-inspired design has made them shoe closet staples among the fashion set. Ultimately, the buzz caught the attention of those over at Footwear News.

“In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined an honor like ‘shoe of the year,’” Rihanna said in a press release. Here, we’d like to quote The Cut’s Veronique Hyland in saying, “Dream bigger, Rih!”

“It means so much to me to make a mark like this in the shoe and sneaker industry and to have so many people share my love for the creeper,” Puma’s creative director continued.

Apart from the girl power points, the best part of RiRi taking home this award is that she’ll undoubtedly show up to accept it in some incredible, show-stopping ensemble that, much like her creepers, we’ll be clamoring to buy.

The FNAAs will take place on November 29 at New York City’s IAC building. Other honorees include Mark King, president of Adidas Group North America, who will take home the award for Person of the Year, as well as Paul Andrew, design director of women’s footwear at Salvatore Ferragamo and Footwear News‘ Designer of the Year. Iris Apfel, recipient of the organization’s Icon Award, will also be in attendance. Whether the room will be able to accommodate her and Rihanna’s combined sartorial forces remains to be seen.


Formal footwear is facing extinction, says Skechers’ Marvin Bernstein

Marvin Bernstein, managing partner at the Swiss subsidiary of US footwear brand Skechers, talks about his India plans and the latest trends in the global footwear industry

Marvin Bernstein, managing partner of Skechers Sàrl, the Swiss subsidiary of American footwear brand Skechers. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

American footwear brand Skechers is moving beyond footwear in India and has recently introduced apparel and accessories. The brand, which operates through a joint venture with Kishore Biyani-led Future Group, entered India in 2012 and currently operates 90 stores across the country.

“But we are expanding rapidly. We have 50-60 stores coming up in tier-I and tier-II cities this year,” says Marvin Bernstein, managing partner of Skechers Sàrl, the Swiss subsidiary of Skechers USA Inc. that oversees the company’s sales, marketing and operations outside the US. Launched in 1992, Skechers has a presence in 140 countries.

Bernstein is bullish about the Indian market which he calls “a low-hanging fruit”. In an interview, Bernstein talks about his India plans, the latest trends in the global footwear industry and the last time he wore formal shoes. Edited excerpts:

You have been in the footwear industry for more than 40 years. How have things changed globally and in India?

Footwear has gone very casual over the last five-six years. The biggest chunk of footwear sales, right now, is athletic driven and that’s a trend which is going to stay for a while. Of course, comfort has a huge role to play in that.

There are a couple of reasons behind this casualization. Globally, there is a wave of fitness craze and it is growing very rapidly among people. Secondly, the footwear industry is being driven by young people, who like casual footwear. This also has much to do with the start-up culture which has changed the whole workplace dress code.

Is formal as a segment shrinking?

Yes, definitely. Around the world, it has gotten very small. In India, formal is still a growing business but it is facing extinction in a lot of countries now. Like the leather formal footwear industry in Italy is almost gone. In fact, leather footwear itself is getting very casual and athletic-driven.

I personally haven’t worn a pair of formal shoes in a long time, except at one of my parent’s funeral.

What are your current global revenues?

We are a $4 billion company and that is just in footwear. We are present in 140 countries. We recently had our first billion-dollar quarter in 2016. We have just started apparel and accessories business with products like backpacks, watches, shoe care and track pants. Apparel and accessories is currently 5% of our overall revenue but we are growing rapidly. In India, we have just launched apparel at our store in Gurgaon. The products will be priced between Rs2,000 and Rs7,000.

The US constitutes 49% of our business, and 51% of the revenues come from international business. Countries like the UK, Germany and China are huge markets for us.

What are your expansion plans for India?

Our brand has done very well in India ever since we entered four years ago. Right now, we are in that explosive phase where we are building critical mass. Indian market is a low-hanging fruit. We have a partnership with retailers who have excellent exposure in the tier-I cities. We recently increased our stake in our joint venture with Future Group from 49% to 51%.

About 50% of the population in India is under the age of 35 years. Because of this, the athletic-driven business is becoming very strong here. We are planning to open a lot of franchise stores in India. We are looking to add 50-60 stores every financial year (both franchise and company-owned), for the next few years. We are committed to the Indian market, whatever it takes.

How much does India contribute to your overall revenue?

It is a very small percentage, not worth mentioning, given that we launched here just four years back. We have moving revenue targets because the market is growing very quickly. In fact, we have overshot all our growth and revenue targets in the past.

For the last two years, we have been growing here at a rate of 100% (year-on-year) and we expect this sort of growth rate for the next couple of years. Over the next five years, we believe India will probably be one of the top five markets for us.

Currently, what are the most striking trends in the footwear industry globally?

Sandal sales are crazy right now, all over the world. In India, sandals used to be a very small percentage of our business but we are now seeing growth of about 60-70% annually. It is trending worldwide. I think this growth has much to do with the comfort level.

What is your digital strategy?

We are trying to address the digital requirements through our own e-commerce platform. We also do business with third party e-commerce companies. But, e-commerce for us is more of a marketing tool which helps us grow business for our customers. In India, e-commerce as a channel is still getting developed and it is more of a promotional platform.

In those terms, our digital strategy is different from other companies. We are not dependent much on online sales. In India, digital contributes about 7% to our overall revenue. Having said that, e-commerce surely is an important platform.

What do you think about the goods and services tax?

To be candid, taxes going up or going down doesn’t impact anybody much. It’s just a lot of noise. People don’t like change. Whether taxes go up or down, they won’t stop shopping; they are still going to buy what they want. It’s a very short-term impact till everyone gets used to it.

What is your favourite brand, apart from Skechers?

I have been wearing Skechers for the last five years, apparel and footwear both. I have fallen in love with the brand. I buy jeans because we don’t make them. I shop at Pepe Jeans. There is no social pressure but I don’t feel like wearing any other brand but Skechers.

What is your personal style?

It’s very casual. I rarely get dressed in formal. A casual and comfortable lifestyle is what I like to have and I think that is what most people do too.


Mark Wilkins is the owner and founder of ZN Footwear and him and his team will be producing the Prototype 1, expected to release very soon. An affordable luxury footwear line that is designed to give back to the people made with premium materials, engineered mesh, leather, suede, snakeskin and much more. To help with the cause all sales from the shoe will be given to fund inner city kids post high school education. Every 25 pairs sold will be given to families or individuals in need. Mark says he pushed to create something that represented everything he loves in sneakers. ZN originates from the Chinese word ZEN, which means to find enlightenment and the glow from happiness and self-fulfillment. The story and influence behind ZN footwear is to always lift others and that happens by giving back to those in need. Mark created a platform where he could express himself and a platform that is inline with the culture. People will soon have a chance to make reservations for The Prototype 1 LE in the Noir colorway, meaning you can reserve a pair in your size when they are ready to ship, there will be 400 slots available. There will also be options for larger sizes such as 15 and 16 as well. Everything will be available online only to make it fair for all of the customers around the world. The shoe releases at a set price of $170. Sizes range from 7-16 and new colorways will include size 6.  Mark spoke in depth on the meaning behind  his brand, what to expect from the shoe, how the design came about and much more. Check out the interview below.

Tell us where you’re from and how you got to this point? 
Mark Wilkins: I’m from Chicago, IL. Country Club Hills to be exact, it’s a a small town south of Chicago, a community built of the grind, blue collar town everybody works for what they want. I grew up in sports, basketball specifically, so that was always my ultimate passion and still is. It took me far, went to college at Holy Cross. Basketball showed me the world. Introduced me to some great people and got exposed to some things that helped mold the way I think today.  

What is the name of the brand?

ZN Footwear pronounced Zen.

Why ZN?

Because it’s the energy and enlightenment that we find in ourselves to help others. The part of us that makes us 100% happy. And both my sons’ names are Zai and Zayn so naming my brand with a Z was inevitable.

Speak to us about the backstory on how you actually designed this shoe? What was the process of developing it like? 

Being from Chicago I’ve always had a love for sneakers, so basically when the opportunity to develop my own shoe came I ran with it because it’s always been a true passion of mine, I drew them by hand and included everything I love in sneakers I wore growing up. I wanted to develop a aesthetic that catered to most sneaker heads needs, premium materials, luxury feel, comfort, breathability, a neck breaking sneaker that was aesthetically pleasing as it is to actually wear.

The process was rough, I wanted to use a sole that spoke to a sneaker I love through about 60 sole molds to get the perfect one. This sole is influenced by the Air Force 1, but measurements are all completely different from it, making the Prototype 1 Sneaker its own silhouette and that was the hardest part. Getting a sole that didn’t look weird or too bulky. I added straps for lockdown and appeal, sneakers with straps are dope, some of my favorite kicks had straps on them. I wanted to add the premium materials and glowing sole to give a twist, no affordable sneaker out has both of these qualities, and I definitely wanted to bring that to life. Since the ZN Footwear brand is about the glow from enlightenment and positive energy it all had to make sense.

My goal was to create a sneaker that can impact the world, this is a brand about positivity energy and acting on a frequency that all humans can relate to. – Mark Wilkins

What can we expect from this brand? 

With my first installation of my standalone The Prototype 1 Sneakeryou will get to see full length glowing sole on most colorways. You can expect straps for lockdown. The silhouette will definitely include maximum breathability and durability as I said earlier. The materials will be 100% natural premium leather and suede. Last but not least, they will have an affordable price point at $170 that is undeniable for the quality. My goal was to create a sneaker that can impact the world, this is a brand about positivity energy and acting on a frequency that all humans can relate to. We are all beings, and if we could just stop focusing negative things, using less of our mouths and more of our brains we can do some unbelievable things on earth.

Once I launched the ZN Footwear this fall, the plan is to give pairs directly to families or individuals that need them. I plan to be heavily involved and connected to this process. If it’s in Africa, The south side of Chicago, Baltimore, or to a single mom in Compton wanting to get sneakers for her kids to go back to school, and eventually start outreach campaigns in my hometown to give back directly to areas that need our help. Funding education programs getting new technology into classrooms, for those circumstances that lack exposure. It’s too many of us with large platforms out here living the dream, who are not giving directly to the communities where we grew up. My vision and the main reason I wanted to bring this shoe to life is not to sell sneakers or be cool and say I have my own sneaker, but being able to give and contribute to the masses some how. That’s always been cooler to me. So, this fall everything comes to fruition, when the Noir colorway drops statewide and internationally.

You mentioned colorways, what do you have in store? 

Yeah man, we have a lot of flavors coming to fit everyone’s style, The Prototype 1 is a year round sneaker so the colors will be wearable at anytime. For the first few drops we have Hemp, Eggshell, Noir, Ash grey, and Nude and a few more. Next year you will see a few runners and a new casual silhouette.

What insight can you give our young readers that wanted to be designers?

To keep going, don’t listen to anyone else, go with your gut feeling. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and you’ll find quickly once you have something good that they will try to tell you what they think is right for you. Do you, don’t change for anyone. Keep a great group of positive people around you even it’s 2 friends, you will do extremely well. Trust god, because he doesn’t make mist.

London Fashion Week: The trends you can expect to find

Victoria Beckhams Spring/Summer collection at New York Fashion Week (Image: Rex/Shuttershock)

There is so much to look forward to with this seasons fashion must-haves.

It’s the start of Autumn and we are already prepping our favourite winter wardrobes items with chunky knits and layers and layers of fun styles.

With New York Fashion Week setting the bar high with fresh new looks for fashion revellers, London is also predicted to be exciting fashion followers with looks to replicate.

80s styles


This style has been visible in many stores, both high street and designer, with flared trousers, fluted sleeves and 80s hair styles all making a massive comeback this summer.

Now there are new styles to bring into the new season with fishnets, varsity jackets, light florals and dramatic shoulder pads and over-sized coats all having a comeback.

Mix and Match

(Image: Boohoo)

Their has been a flux of fashion crossovers in recent years with sports, casual and smart tailoring all being worn in the same outfit.

Popular online store Boohoo has mastered this way of styling for customers, with the sports luxe genre featuring in many products in store.

Cropped trousers

Cropped, capri and flared trousers are a huge trend this season.

(Image: ASOS)

Teamed with casual or for a more tailored look, the designers at fashion week will be incorporating this trend into their shows.

Also, we can imagine they will be a hit for the frows, with the style being perfect to take you through the seasons into the chillier months.

Online store ASOS has many variations of the new fashion, and extremely affordable so you can feel bang on trend.


(Image: Anya Hindmarch)

One of the most highly anticipated shows, Anya Hindmarch, has released their Autumn/Winter collection online and in store which features some furry friends.

These fox, bear and husky cross body bags will set you back £550, with more of these fun styles being present in other big named brands in the industry.

Parrots, Flamingos, parrots, you name it they are going to printed on many items this season.

Shoulder skimming earrings

This is a trend that has kind of accidentally comeback, with some quite daring and outrageous looks being spotted in and around the fashion scene.

Here Sofia Ritchie rocks a large hooped earring at Oscar de la Renta’s spring collection show.

This particular style can be seen in all shapes and sizes, depending on how confident you can wear them (because the bigger the better).

Many of the styles are heavily multi-coloured, heavily beaded, it is a style that less is definitely not more.

The likes of Etsy and Topshop have some hoop and tassel variations which will be getting more popular into the new season.